Nitzavim-Rosh Hashana 5779-2018

“Whatever Became of Sin?”

Parashat Nitzavim has been called “one of the greatest expositions on repentance in the Torah.” How appropriate it is to read these deeply inspiring words during the High Holy Day season.

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Korach 5778-2018

“Where Did Korach Go Wrong?”

Korach, who was reputed to be a very wise man, failed to understand that the leadership role that Moses played was not based on power, but was derived from being a devoted mentor and a master teacher.

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Bo 5773-2013

"Interfacing with the Non-Jewish World"

Moses boldly tells Pharaoh that not only will the Israelites not leave their flocks behind in Egypt when they depart, but that Pharaoh himself will donate flocks that will be used by the Israelites in their worship in the wilderness. This declaration raises many thorny issues about the use of non-Jewish resources in Jewish life.

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Re’eh 5769-2009

"The Chosen People–Again!"

Four times the Torah reminds the Jewish people that they are a special treasure to G-d. What does this idea mean, and what do the people need to do to safeguard their special status with G-d?

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Tazria-Metzorah 5766-2006

"The Torah's Home Security System"

In parashat Metzorah we learn of the perplexing law of the house that is afflicted with tzara'at. This ancient law has much to teach us about the positive values and behaviors that must permeate a Jewish home, and the ruin and destruction that result from improper models and examples.

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Va’eira 5766-2006

"Becoming Accustomed to the Burdens"

Why had the time now come to free Israel from bondage? While many reasons are offered, Rabbi Simcha Bunam of Peschischa suggests that G-d felt that the ancient Hebrews were becoming too accustomed to suffering--so it had to stop. A parallel may be drawn to contemporary times, when people become indifferent and unresponsive to the immorality of our own environment.

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Vayechi 5764-2004

"Can It Be a Mitzvah to Lie?"

When Joseph's brothers come to seek forgiveness from him, a battle of "truth" versus "peace" takes place. The meaning of these two values goes from absolute to relative, leaving the ethical fabric of the world to appear tattered and threadbare, without the proper perspective.

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Shemot 5763-2002

"The Making of a Concerned Jewish Leader"

Who is the child Moses and how does he merit to become the "savior" of Israel? Both the biblical texts and the Midrashic elaborations give us hints to help us understand how a child who is raised in Pharaoh's court becomes a devoted and dynamic Jewish leader. The fact that he is raised by his biological mother, Yocheved, until he is weaned, is undoubtedly a critical factor. Although tradition is purposely ambiguous, Moses not only receives his rearing from his mother and his sister as a young child, but also from Bitya, the daughter of Pharaoh, who may very well be the secret heroine in Moses' life and consequently a key player in the destiny of the Jewish people.

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Chayei Sara 5763-2002

"The Torah's Recipe for Finding a Proper Mate"

This week's parasha is a primary source from which we learn much about the qualities that one should look for when seeking a mate. The lessons that may be gleaned from our scriptures serve as a sound guide, even for contemporary times. They are not primitive. In fact, in many instances, they are light-years ahead of contemporary practices and understandings.

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Va’eira 5761-2001

"The Subtle Slavery"

The Torah tells us that Pharaoh literally had to chase the Jews out of Egypt, not only because Egypt was the country that they knew as their home, but because Egypt embodied values from which they were not prepared to separate. It is this "subtle slavery," embodied in our admiration for, and indeed worship of, alien cultures, that is a cause of concern for Jews, even today.

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